A new study by UC-Davis researchers found a five-fold increase in autism spectrum disorder in children born to mothers with low iron intake and some metabolic conditions.
“Iron deficiency and its resultant anemia is the most common nutrient deficiency … affecting 40 to 50% of women and their infants,” said Rebecca Schmidt, assistant professor at the UC-Davis Department of Public Health Sciences and a MIND Institute researcher, in a written statement.
“Iron is crucial to early brain development, contributing to neurotransmitter production, myelination and immune function,” Schmidt said. “All three of these pathways have been associated with autism.”
Research has been conducted previously on the link between autism and mother’s intake of folic acid, but this research is the first to look at iron intake as a possible contributor, Schmidt said. UC-Davis’ MIND Institute — Medical Investigation of Neurodevelopmental Disorders — is a collaborative international research center examining causes and treatment of neurodevelopmental disorders.
The study is expected to be published online this week by the American Journal of Epidemiology.